-Update 11/4/13 – Darius approved the comment in question and said sorry, so I’m all happy now. Given how long and verbose my comments are, I suspect he simply didn’t have time to read through it and figure out if it was safe to publish on an Oracle hosted website. While I disagree with Darius on a lot of points, I also like a lot of what he writes, and I suspect he’d be an interesting guy to have a beer with 🙂
Forgive me socialmeda for I have sinned, It’s been four months since my last blogpost. There are a bunch of reasons for this, mostly that I’ve had some real-world stuff that’s been way more important than blogging, and I’ve limited my technical writing to posting comments on other blogs or answering questions on Linked-in. Before I start writing again, there’s something I’d like to get off my chest. It _really_ bugs me when people edit out relevant comments. As a case in point I was having what I believed to be a reasonably constructive conversation with Darius Zanganeh of Oracle on his blog , but for some reason he never approved my final comment which I submitted to his blog on December 7th 2012, the text of which follows. If you’re interested, head over to his blog and read the entire post, I think it’s pretty good, it showcases some impressive benchmark numbers Oracle has been able to achieve with scale-up commodity hardware. From my perspective this is a great example of that a deeper analysis of good benchmarks demonstrate far more than top line numbers and $/IOPS …and if you know me, then you know I just LOVE a good debate over benchmark results, so I couldnt resist commenting even though I really had better/more important things to do at the time.
Thanks Darius, its nice to know exactly what we’re comparing this to. I didn’t read the press releases, nor was I replying to that release, I was replying to your post which was primarily a comparison to the FAS6240.
If you do want to compare the 7420 to the 3270, then I’ll amend the figures once again .. to get a 240% better result you used a box with
- More than eleven times as many CPU cores
- More than one hundred and sixty times as much memory
I really wish you’d also published Power Consumption figures too 🙂
Regarding disk efficiency, we’ve already demonstrated our cache effectiveness. On a previous 3160 benchmark, we used a modest amount of extended cache and reduced the number of drives required by 75%. By way of comparison to give about 1080 IOPS/15K Spindle we implemented a cache that was 7.6% of the capacity of the fileset. The Oracle benchmark got about 956 IOPS/drive with a cache size about 22% of the fileset size.
The 3250 benchmark on the other hand, wasn’t done to demonstrate cache efficiency, it was done to allow a comparison to the old 3270. It’s also worth noting that the 3250 is not a replacement for the 3270, it’s a replacement for the 3240 with around 70% more performance. Every benchmark we do is generally done to create a fairly specific proof point, in the case of the 3250 benchmark it shows that it has almost identical performance as the 3270 for a controller that sells at a much lower price point.
We might pick one of our controllers and do a “here’s a set config and here’s the performance across every known benchmark” the way Oracle seems to have done with the 7420. It might be kind of interesting, but I’m not sure what it would prove. Personally I’d like to see all the vendors including NetApp do way more benchmarking of all their models, but it’s a time-consuming and expensive thing to do, and as you’ve already demonstrated, its easy to draw some pretty odd conclusions from them. We’ll do more benchmarking in the future, you’ll just have to wait to see the results 🙂
Going forward, I think non-scale out benchmark configs will still be valid to demonstrate stuff like model replacement equivalency, and cache efficiency, but I’ll say it again, if you’re after “my number is the biggest” hero number bragging rights, scale out is the only game in town. But scale-out isn’t just about hero-numbers, for customers to rapidly scale without disruption as needs change, scale-out is an elegant and efficient solution and they need to know they can do that predicably and reliably. That’s why you see the benchmark series like the ones done by NetApp and Isilon. Even though scale-out NFS is a relatively small market, and Clustered-ONTAP has a good presence in that market, scale-out Unified storage has much broader appeal and is doing really well for us. I cant disclose numbers, but based on the information I have, I wouldn’t be surprised if the number of new clusters sold since March exceeds the number of Oracle 7420s sold in the same period, either way I’m happy with the sales of Clustered-ONTAP.
As technology blogger, its probably worth pointing out that stock charts are a REALLY poor proxy for technology comparisons, but if you want to go there, you should also look at stuff like P/E multiples (an indication of how fast the market expects you to grow), and market share numbers. If you’ve got Oracle’s storage revenue and profitability figures hand for use to do a side by side comparison to the NetApp published financial reports, post them on up, personally I would LOVE to see a comparison. Then again, maybe your readers would prefer us to stick to talking about the merits of our technology and how that can help them solve the problems they’ve got.
In closing, while this has been fun, I don’t have a lot more time to spend on this. I have expressed my concerns at the amount of hardware you had to throw at the solution to achieve your benchmark results, and the leeway that gives you to be competitive with street pricing, but as I said initially your benchmark shows you can get a great scale-up number, and you’re willing to do that at a keen list price, nobody can take that away from you, kudos to you and your team.
Other than having an opportunity to have my final say, my comments also underlines some major shifts in the industry that I’ll be blogging about over the next few months.
1. If you’re after “my number is the biggest” hero number bragging rights, scale out is the only game in town
2. Scale out Unified and Clustered ONTAP is going really well, I cant publish numbers, but the uptake has surprised me, the level of interest I’ve seen from the breifings I’ve been doing has been really good.
3. Efficiency matters, getting good results by throwing boatloads of commodity hardware at a problem is one way of solving a problem, but it usually causes problems and shifts costs elsewhere in the infrastructure (power, cooling, rackspace, labour, software, compliance etc etc)
I’ll also be writing a fair amount about Flash and Storage Class Memory, and why some of the Flash Benchmarks/Claimed performance is silly enough in my opinion to to be bordering on deceptive … until then, be prepared to dig deeper when people start to claim IOPS measured in the millions, until then, have fun 🙂
John Martin (life_no_borders)